Images From A Car

August 20, 2009

IMG_1806We leave at 5.30 knowing that traffic will slow us down, yet hoping not too much, in order to make it on time to our 6 o’clock  appointment. Valencia (in Venezuela) is a little town of  900,000 people that sits in a valley, and has only one freeway that resembles Allen Parkway more than it does 610. But instead of finding the hellish traffic overwhelming, I discovered a few gems for the drivers’ eyes only. As we reach the highway entrance cars approach from all directions. The left turn we need to make seems impossible, given the abundance of cars coming from ahead. The intersecting vehicles come from the right and the left and seem to think the red light is merely decoration, while honks become the perennial soundtrack of the trip. We swerved through the cluster of cars and made it to the 20 mph traffic on the highway. The highway’s 3 lanes have been converted into 5 since here we use the shoulders as the other fast lanes.

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26opie.xlarge2Catherine Opie is a portraitist who also photographs landscapes, cityscapes and contemporary still lives. Her portraits  play into the role of  social commentary, very edgy and maybe even controversial. So, her “Freeeways”  series sticks out as a completely different line of work. The fact is though, that her photographs of freeways are also a sorts of social commentray on the realities of todays’ city landscapes. Read the rest of this entry »

Concrete Island

July 11, 2009

Picture 2CNCRETE J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island is the story of architect Robert Maitland, whose car accident in April of 1973 leaves him stranded and confined to the forgotten land under the spur of the M4 motorway in London.

Maitland, the hero of the story, ends up stranded in an ‘island’ defined by the concrete structure of the highways that surround it and the deafening roar of the cars. No-one sees him as they drive by and, as he remarks more than once, no will ever think of looking for him there.

The ‘island’ – and extension of his car and of himself- is nothing but the wasteland of urban living. The space is constricted and airless, left to overgrowth, trash and a seemingly abandoned outbuilding where Proctor and Jane (a brain damaged acrobat and a social outcast) live forgotten and isolated from and by society.

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Highway Laughs

June 28, 2009

XKCD

Here is some xkcd highway humor. As you can see, we are at the mercy of highway engineers. Treat them well!

HW

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Under Construction

June 23, 2009

1

Here’s a collection of wonderful construction photographs of the I-10 / 610 interchange, courtesy of KatyFreeway.org

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Jumping K-Rails

June 22, 2009

THOUGHTS ON OUR FIRST SITE VISIT

Existing Conditions

Once, when I was about 13 or 14, we had some massive flooding out in Humble. Highway 59 was totally under water starting just north of FM 1960 going almost all the way to Kingwood. We lived in a neighborhood right off of the highway and I remember wading out to the freeway with my cousin. We just sat there in the middle of this concrete speedway.  It was quite the experience. Remembering walking along the deserted highway always brings to my mind Stephen Vincent Benet’s short story, By The Waters of Babylon.  There was something powerful about being there, in that space, totally unprotected, small, and vulnerable. Maybe that is where this whole obsession started.

We made our first “official” site visit to our site on an early Sunday morning.  After consuming unhealthy amounts of caffeine, and recovering from the shock of finding other people actually awake at 7am on a Sunday, we made our way to the empty Northwest Transit Center Park and Ride. Read the rest of this entry »

Highway Tiles

June 11, 2009

Artist Jim Termeer has taken satellite images of highway interchanges from around the world and made them into tile designs. In the site they describe highway interchanges as having “…complex beauty equal to the buildings and public sites usually remembered with souvenirs…”

Clearly he is really cool!

interchange_tile1

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